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Masterlink ML-9600

  • Overview
  • Key Features
  • Tech Specs
  • FAQs
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Presenting the new MasterLink ML-9600 two-track hard disc recorder - literally, the state-of-the-art in do-it-yourself mixing and mastering systems.

Only MasterLink lets you capture your mixes in stunning 24-bit, 96kHZ; edit your recording and apply finishing tools - such as high-resolution parametric EQ Compression, limiting and normalizing - all in the same system and then burn the finished recording in either industry-standard Redbook, or new high resolution CD24, fast becoming the new standard for archiving and transferring high-res. audio files to the mastering room.

But don't take our word for it. Visit your local Alesis dealer today and learn why top pros like George Massenburg, Roger Nichols, Elliot Scheiner, Al Schmitt, and Greg Ladanyi have traded in their DAT's for Masterlink. Or better yet, just get off your musically inclined little butt and buy one!

After all, it's only your career we're talking about here.

Please Note: Refurbished MasterLink 9600 do not ship with remotes
  • Huge internal hard disk recorder...up to 30 hours of two-track audio capacity
  • Burn CDs using Standard "Red Book" (16-bit/44.1kHz) and high resolution formats…up 24-bit, 96kHz
  • Choose any combination of digital resolutions (16-, 20-, and 24-bit) and sample rates (44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96kHz) with full AIFF compatibility
  • Organize song playlists with total control of fade-ins, fade-outs, track gain, start points, track cropping and more
  • Stores 16 different playlists containing up to 99 songs each
  • Onboard digital signal processing: compression, EQ, limiting, and normalization
  • Uses inexpensive, readily available CD-Rs

Audio (44.1/48kHz frequencies) Frequency Response:

  • 20Hz-20kHz, +0, -0.3 dB
  • THD+N: <0.002% @ 1kHz, -1 dBFS

Signal-to-Noise Ratio:

  • 113 dB, A-weighted

Analog/Digital Converter:

  • 24-bit 128x oversampling

Digital/Analog Converter:

  • 24-bit 128x oversampling

Sample Rates:

  • 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96kHz

Word Lengths:

  • 16-, 20-, 24-bit

CD Drive Type:

  • ATAPI CD-ROM (8x read, 4x write)

CD Read/ Write Formats:

  • Red Book, CD24

Hard Disk Type:

  • High capacity IDE Drive

Hard Disk Max Recording Times:

  • 52 hours @ 44.1kHz/16-bit
  • 16 hours @ 96.0kHz/24-bit

Digital Inputs and Outputs:

  • AES/EBU-compatible balanced XLR connectors
  • S/PDIF-compatible unbalanced coaxial (RCA) connectors

Analog Inputs and Outputs:

  • Balanced XLR connectors (+4dBu)
  • Unbalanced phono (RCA) connectors (-10dBV)

Nominal Input and Output Level:
Balanced: +4dBu (-15dBFS)
Unbalanced: -10dBV (-15dBFS)

Maximum Output:

  • Balanced: +19dBu = 0dBFS
  • Unbalanced: +5dBV = 0dBFS

Input Impedance:

  • Balanced: 15k Ohm nominal
  • Unbalanced: 10kOhm nominal

Output Impedance:

  • Balanced: 75Ohm nominal
  • Unbalanced: 150Ohm nominal

Power Requirements:

  • 90-240 VAC, 40W max, 50/60Hz

Dimensions (WxHxD):

  • 19"x 3.5" x 11" (483mm x 88mm x 279mm)


  • 16.55 lbs. (6.2kg)
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  • Can I send a CD from MasterLink to a duplication plant?

    Yes. In fact you'd be hard-pressed to find a mastering facility that doesn't employ at least one Masterlink. If you send them a Red Book CD made by MasterLink, most are able to extract the P and Q codes from the CD's Table of Contents (TOC) and make a "glass master" and make thousands of copies from that master. Some plants are better than others in preserving the spacing and other data, so ask for a reference CD.
  • How long does it take to make CD copies?

    It's pretty fast, but it depends on what your playlist is like. If you have high-resolution files with lots of DSP, the MasterLink takes anywhere from slightly less than real time to 2x-4x speed to either burn a CD24 or, if you are making a Red Book CD, to process the files back to a rendered image on the hard disk. Once this rendered image is on the disk, the process is very fast: a 45-minute Red Book CD can be "burned" about every ten minutes.
  • Does MasterLink always need to render an image before burning the CD?

    No, rendering is only necessary when you are going to burn a Red Book CD, and you are using DSP and/or sample rate conversion and/or bit reduction. If your tracks are 44.1 kHz/16 bit, with no DSP applied other than Track Gain, no rendering is necessary, and MasterLink will burn the CD directly.
  • Can I record at high resolution and still make standard CDs to send out?

    Yes, you can make 24-bit/96 kHz mixes that are DVD ready, and still create standard Red Book CDs from that playlist. MasterLink will use its state-of-the-art internal sampling rate converter and dithering algorithm to make a standard audio CD that sounds almost as good as the high-resolution originals, even though it's 16-bit/44.1 kHz.
  • What if I'm using a professional mastering house?

    Most professional mastering engineers want to receive your material in the highest possible resolution, and many of them now have a MasterLink or a digital workstation that can read CD24 disks directly. If they're using analog processing, send your material as 24-bit, 96 kHz files. If they're using digital processing, they'd prefer 24/88.2 files (because then there will be a simpler sample-rate conversion to make a 44.1 kHz CD). For a complete album, you'll send several discs, since at these high rates a blank CD holds no more than 19 to 21 minutes of audio. To show the mastering engineer how you want to assemble the CD master, send written notes and a Red Book version of the CD sequenced the way you envision it.
  • What kind of blank discs does MasterLink use?

    It uses the same low-cost blank CD-Rs that can be found at any computer or office supply store, often costing less than $1 a piece (in quantity). All major brands are compatible and work satisfactorily. It is NOT necessary to purchase the "CD-R Audio" discs required by consumer CD recorders. It does not use "CD-RW" (rewritable) discs.
  • Can I slow down the CD recording to 2x or 1x?

    Some people want to do this, under the impression that there will be fewer errors in the disc at slower speed. That may have been true several years ago, but with today's generation of CD-Rs, 4x is just as reliable as slower speeds. In fact, the wow and flutter is less and the drive is more stable at higher speeds.
  • Can I quickly get my DSP values back to their default setting?

    Yes, just set the cursor under the value and press the and buttons simultaneously.
  • Can I rearrange sections within a song?

    If your MasterLink has Version 2.18 software you can make copies of any audio file in the "file pile" on the hard disk. You can then "cut up" the copy without changing the original. The Track Split feature allows you to divide a track at precise points. You can then take the segments and place them as elements in a playlist (they will play seamlessly with no space between them), and then, if you wish, use the Track Join feature to "glue" the elements back into a single, new track.
  • Does it have a multiband compressor?

    No, the compressor and limiter in MasterLink are the standard fullband type.
  • Can it use the extended-length 80-minute CDs?

    MasterLink does support 80-minute (700 MB) CDs but be aware that many consumer CD players may not handle playback of the last couple of tracks of a full 80-minute CD. Some players may not even recognize the 80-minute CD when you insert it.
  • My MasterLink keeps telling me to press the HD/CD button, but it never does anything?

    Please re-initialize the MasterLink by powering it up while holding in both and for just a few seconds. This is 100% safe, and can not in any way attach itself to any previously recorded audio. Also, which software is currently installed? You can find this out by repeatedly pressing the button until you get the "Sys Info" page. The newest version 2.18, can be downloaded here: Version 2.18 software as well as a document entitled "How to create a MasterLink OS disc". You might also want to download the "MasterLink Release Notes" as this will let you in on new features and bug fixes. If you do not have the ability to burn an OS disc, please forward your entire shipping address to and we will be more than happy to get one out to you.
  • How can I tell what version software is currently installed?

    By repeatedly pressing the "UTILITY" button until you get to the "SYS INFO" page, you can tell what software is currently installed, what file system it's using, the EPROM version installed, and the model of the CD writer and hard drive installed.
  • My playlist is too big, how can I move a few tracks to a separate playlist?

    The MasterLink has two sections to it. The Playlist section, where you put together up to 16 CD playlists, and the Audio file section, where every audio file is stored. If you exceed the capacity of a CD in any playlist, you're going to have to delete songs until your playlist is within this capacity. But you're only deleting the reference to that song in said playlist, not the actual audio itself, thus the non-destructive nature of the MasterLink. To make a playlist of audio that has already been recorded to the MasterLink: 1.) Start from an empty playlist, or an existing playlist that you want to add audio files to. 2.) Press "PlayList Edit" and the "Skip" right/forward until you reach the (Audio File) section. If you are in the habit of naming your songs, your life will be much easier right about now, if not, you'll have to preview each audio file until you find the one you want to move. 3.) Once said audio track is found, press the "Track Move" button. You will then need to decide which track to put the file into, if you have started from an empty playlist, it will automatically ask if you want to move it to Track 1. 4.) Press "Track Move" again, and then cursor "Up/Yes" to answer the famous "Are you sure?" question. 5.) Repeat for each audio file you want to move. The key is to start from the Playlist that you want to manipulate. This allows you to have a playlist of 10 different mastered versions of the same song, without requiring you to have the audio track on the MasterLinks hard drive 10 times.
  • What is this "Offset St Offset" in my menu?

    Consumer Compact Disc player design can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer,and across a wide price/features range. All CD players have output mute circuitry that activates when the player is searching for a track, such as after the skip forward button is pressed. Once a track is located, the player unmutes its outputs and begins to play audio. However, because of the widely varying designs of consumer CD players, this muting circuitry can be relatively slow (or fast) when muting or unmuting. This can cause a track to be slightly cut off at the beginning or end of the audio. MasterLink Version 2.18 software gives you the ability to add an offset to the track start ID of a RedBook CD either at the beginning or at the end (or both) of a track so that variances between CD players will not affect a CD created in a MasterLink. These offsets are typically measured in "CD frames", a frame being equal to 1/75th of a second. To edit Start and End Time offsets in version 2.18, press the button repeatedly until Utility Page 6 is displayed.
  • Is there a re-initialization procedure for the Masterlink?

    Yes! Simply power up while holding in both PLAY and RECORD for just a few seconds. The display will briefly read "Restoring defaults..." if it has been properly reinitialized. This is completely safe as it cannot attach itself in any way to any previously recorded audio.
  • How do I update the Operating System on the Masterlink?

    Please refer to the following guide for a detailed walkthrough:
    Updating the Operating System on the Masterlink
  • Is the DSP destructive?

    No. Normally, the audio is played "through" the DSP on its way to the CD-R, just as if it were a signal processor patched between two recorders. In Version 2.18 software , you are able to render your DSP and make it part of the actual audio file, if you so choose. The only editing features that are destructive to the basic audio file are Cropping and Splitting (and the latter can be "undone" by Joining).
  • The Red Book CD I create on the ML-9600 plays fine on other CD players but won't play on my consumer DVD player, Why?

    Because of the difference in DVD laser operation, most consumer DVD players can not read CD-R disks, no matter what drive recorded them. Check you DVD player's documentation for compatibility information.
  • I burned a Red Book CD, but when I tried to burn a CD24 as a backup, MasterLink tells me that the Playlist exceeds the disc capacity. What’s up?

    If the playlist files are high-resolution, they may exceed the 650 MB capacity of a CD-R even though the total playing time of the playlist is less than the 72 minutes of a standard CD. In addition, CD24 discs are ISO9660 discs that incorporate better error correction than a standard Red Book audio disc. The error correction data takes up some space on the disc, so what fits on a Red Book CD may not fit onto a CD24. Please check the Owner’s Manual for a comparison of Red Book vs. CD24 disc capacities.
  • When I am burning or test burning a CD, my remote control does not work. Why?

    In order to ensure a perfect "burn", all resources are reserved for the burn process. The remote is therefore disabled during the burn process. However, you can still use the front panel buttons, e.g. for changing the .
  • When I use the Limiter, I get the levels right up to 0 dBfs. In my Rendered Image, however, I am getting occasional MAX LEDs. Why? Am I distorting?

    No, your audio is not affected. This is a display-only issue. The Playlist metering works from the 24-bit processing in MasterLink. The Rendered Image is always a 16-bit file. The difference in bit resolution is what is causing the false "Over" displays on the meter.
  • Is it possible to take a CD mastered on the unit at 24/96 and download it back on the internal hard drive? Then turn around and cut another CD at 16/44.1?

    Yes, you can perform a Move CD operation from the 24/96 CD-24 disk and burn a Red Book 16/44.1 CD. The unit will Render the image to the drive then burn the CD.
  • When I am burning a CD24, it seems to be slower than real time, although it is supposed to burn at 4X. Why?

    This is due to a common misconception. "4X, 8X," etc. in CD drive specs refer to the data transfer rate of a drive that is spinning at the same speed as a Red Book CD (this is because CD-ROMs are an offshoot of CD-Audio technology). It does not refer to "clock on the wall" time. If you're burning high-resolution files to a CD24, they take longer; for example, a 1-minute standard 16/44.1 file will burn in about 15 seconds, but a 1-minute long 16/88.2 file will take about 30 seconds to burn. The rate of data transfer in each case is in fact 4X, but the larger amount of data will make the second burn appear slower by the counter. For a more detailed explanation of this, please refer to the Owner’s Manual section on "Creating a CD".
  • Is the Rendered Image saved?

    The Rendered Image is saved into a 17th Playlist. This means you can make multiple CD copies of a playlist at 4x speed, without having to wait for the processing. It is then overwritten the next time you need to render a different Playlist. This rendered image cannot be deleted.
  • Do I need to purchase an external converter box to record or play back at high sample rates?

    No. The MasterLink has extremely high-quality internal A/D and D/A converters (the AKM 5393 and 4393) that can sample at 96 kHz and have 24-bit resolution. In the opinion of many professionals, these converters and the circuitry around them sound as good as some external converters costing as much as the MasterLink itself.
  • What sample rates and word lengths are available on MasterLink?

    Sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz are available. Word lengths of 16, 20, and 24 bits are available. Any combination of sample rate and word length can be used.
  • What is a "Red Book" CD?

    A standard audio Compact Disc, meeting the standard set by Sony and Phillips, that can be played in any consumer CD player. Red Book CDs feature 16-bit audio at the 44.1 kHz sampling rate only.
  • Can I record directly to CD?

    No, MasterLink always records to its built-in hard drive first. This allows you to do all the things you couldn't do if you went straight to CD, such as set precise start and end times, add space between songs, and adjust levels and signal processing for each song (not to mention cutting off the noises before and after songs).
  • Can you have songs of different resolutions in the same playlist?

  • What is a Playlist?

    Playlists are the basic structures that the ML-9600 uses to organize tracks before creating CDs. Each of the sixteen playlists is like a "CD in waiting" on the hard drive: a list of the songs that you want to have on your CD plus instructions for how each song should be processed. Within a playlist, you choose the order you want your songs to appear on the final CD, the amount of time between songs, the relative volume between the songs, what kind of DSP (compression, EQ, limiting) each track should have, and how long fade-ins and fade-outs will be. Playlists allow you to be in charge of exactly how your CD will sound. Each Playlist can contain up to 99 tracks, which is the Redbook spec. Keep in mind that the tracks in a Playlist are merely pointers that point to the Audio File stack on the hard drive. This is why you can change the order of songs and add DSP, etc. without affecting the Audio File itself.
  • What does Version 2.0 add to the features?

    Primarily, it makes editing more versatile. You can now: - Split a single track into several tracks, or join multiple tracks into one - Make a copy of an audio file (so you can "chop up" the copy without affecting the original file) - Quickly import an entire CD to the hard drive, in one operation - Copy and paste DSP settings from track to track - Copy playlist information and DSP information to a CD24 - Set start and end points more easily - Render the DSP to the audio file, making it permanent if desired - Add a start and end offset time, to keep sections of a track from being "cut off" when played in slow-access CD players - Loop a song, CD, or playlist for continuous playback.
  • I heard that there's a new version of software for MasterLink. Does it cost anything? How do I get it?

    New Version 2.18 operating system (OS) software for the Alesis MasterLink is now available at no charge. The MasterLink's internal software is in Flash RAM, so you don't need to take your unit to a service center or install a chip to upgrade your unit. You simply obtain a CD with the new system on it (from your Alesis dealer, Alesis Parts Department, or by download to a computer with CD burning capability) and place it into the MasterLink's CD tray. If your OS is pre-v2.00 it will reformat the hard drive on your MasterLink, so backup all important data by making CDs of all your playlists before upgrading your unit.
  • What are the correct settings for compression and limiting?

    That's a matter of artistic choice–there is no "correct" setting. But most professional mastering engineers use very subtle amounts of compression, sometimes taking only 1 or 2 dB off the peaks. To find out what you prefer, you can put the same songs into different playlists with different DSP settings, and listen to the resulting CDs for a few days through different systems. It's a great evaluation tool.
  • Can it crossfade between two songs?

  • Is there DSP (Digital Signal Processing) on board?

    Yes. There is 40-bit floating pointDSP. EQ (3 bands, all 20-20kHz, with Hi- and Lo-Shelving), Compression, look-ahead Peak Limiting, Normalizing, Fade In, Fade Out, and Track Gain are available.
Live DocumentsType
Product Overviewhtml
Manuals & DocumentationSizeType
Masterlink ML-9600 - Product Overview
536 KBpdf
Masterlink ML-9600 - Reference Manual
10 MBpdf
Masterlink ML-9600 - Reference Manual Addendum
2 MBpdf
Masterlink ML-9600 - System Software Update Guide
This document describes the procedure for updating the system software on the Masterlink ML-9600.
40 KBpdf
Software & DriversSizeType
Masterlink OS v3.03
Latest Release!
The MasterLink allows new software to be installed via CD-ROM. If you have a PC or a Mac with a CD-burner, you can download the file above and create an updated CD for your MasterLink. To burn a MasterLink OS disc, you need to know how to burn an ISO disc. Consult the owner's manual of the CD Burning Utility you are using for details on how to properly create an ISO Disc image.
For a detailed tutorial on the proper method for updating the MasterLink OS, click here to download a pdf of the process.
Release Notes History
260 KBzip
Masterlink OS v2.21
260 KBzip
Masterlink CD24 ISO Builder Software
The CD24 ISO Builder is PC software that converts a collection of AIFF files to a CD24 formatted ISO image. This ISO image can, in turn, be burned onto CD-R media to generate a CD24 which can be played on a MasterLink. This utility makes it possible to transfer high resolution audio files from a PC to a MasterLink.
711 KBzip

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